The Best of Intentions: Ignorance, Idiosyncrasy, and Belief Reporting

Canadian Journal of Philosophy 29 (1):29 - 47 (1999)
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Context plays a crucial role in our propositional attitude reporting practices. A belief-reporting sentence which seems true in one context may seem false in another, as Kripke showed us in ‘A Puzzle About Belief.’ To put it a bit sloppily, may seem true when we are discussing Peter's beliefs regarding Paderewski-the-pianist and false when we are discussing his beliefs regarding Paderewski-the-statesman. Peter believes that Paderewski is a fine musician.A number of recent theorists have taken this contextual variation very seriously, and attempted to provide accounts which accommodate it in one way or another. Salmon and Soames accommodate the variation in pragmatics, arguing that our intuitions about attitude reporting often result from mistaking pragmatic implicatures for semantic content. Other theorists have offered semantic accounts which yield contextually varying truth conditions for belief reporting sentences. I have a great deal of sympathy for the project: I think the contextually varying intuitions do exist, and that they need to be accommodated, in one way or another. I am not so sure, however, that this can be done.



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Jennifer Saul
University of Waterloo

Citations of this work

Understanding Belief Reports.David Braun - 1998 - Philosophical Review 107 (4):555-595.
Propositional Attitude Reports.Thomas McKay - 2008 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
The Problem of Puzzling Pairs.Michael Nelson - 2004 - Linguistics and Philosophy 28 (3):319 - 350.

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References found in this work

Frege's Puzzle. [REVIEW]Graeme Forbes - 1987 - Philosophical Review 96 (3):455.
Belief Ascription.Stephen Schiffer - 1992 - Journal of Philosophy 89 (10):499-521.
The Indispensability of Sinn.Graeme Forbes - 1990 - Philosophical Review 99 (4):535-563.
Beyond Singular Propositions?Scott Soames - 1995 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 25 (4):515 - 549.

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